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By Matthew Macklin on 2015-04-02 08:49:38

As Ring of Honor and New Japan announce the talents appearing at next month's combined events in the United States and Canada, we'll be running updated profiles on the NJPW talents.

Hiroshi Tanahashi

Let’s begin with the man credited with bringing the company back to prominence and into arguably their hottest period in many, many years. Tanahashi is often referred to as “the Japanese John Cena”, which is true in some ways as he is the man the company has been built around for many, many years and his popularity is hard to match.  However, the comparisons end there, as Tanahashi is considered one of the finest pro wrestlers in the world and will go down as one of the best in history.  I like to think of him in the same vein as Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle and Bret Hart in that he can work with any guy of any style, ability or size and always bring out their absolute best.

Tanahashi is a seven time IWGP heavyweight champion.  He holds the record for most reigns and most successful title defenses in a single reign.  He is also a one time IWGP intercontinental champion, and two time IWGP tag team champion and has won the G1 Climax in 2007, as well as the New Japan Cup twice.  His most notable rival over the past couple of years has been with Kazuchika Okada in which Tanahashi effectively passed the torch to Okada and in the process had six bona fide classic matches that can be ranked up there with any series of matches in pro wrestling history.  He also had a similar series of matches in 2014 with Shinsuke Nakamura over the IWGP intercontinental championship that produced several belting matches. That along with his matches late last year with AJ Styles and his Wrestle Kingdom main event with Okada proved that at 38 years old, with mileage and niggling injuries mounting, Tanahashi is still one of the finest on the planet.

What to look out for?

Tanahashi uses the High Fly Flow as his finisher, which is a frog splash. He will sometimes hit it multiple times on an opponent to different body parts. Also look out for his sling blade, dragon suplex, straight jacket german suplex, texas clover leaf and dragon screw leg whip. Tanahashi’s real talent is not what moves he does, but where he positions them to always create a hot finish.

If you’re not familiar with his work sign up for NJPW World at a cheap price (around $7 a month) and see what he is all about.  Here are a few matches to start with.

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Minoru Suzuki -  IWGP Heavyweight Championship

Here is Tanahashi defending the IWGP heavyweight championship against Minoru Suzuki at the King of Pro Wrestling event in 2012.  Many people have called this the most perfect match they have ever seen and it’s without a doubt one of the best matches anywhere in the last decade. Just watch and you’ll see why. Storytelling at it’s absolute best.  It can be seen on NJPW World at this link:

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Kazuchika Okada - IWGP Heavyweight Championship

It’s only right to include a match from the Tanahashi/Okada series, this match is from Wrestle Kingdom 9 as Tanahashi goes in as champion to defend against Okada who had won that years G1 Climax to earn his opportunity to regain the title. This was the sixth big time meeting between the two and they hadn’t met each other since October of 2013. This was a huge match and had all the pomp and circumstance to go with it.  Think of it as The Rock meeting Steve Austin. Watch it on NJPW World here:

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura - IWGP Intercontinental Championship

This match is from the 2014 Invasion Attack as Tanahashi defends the IC title against Nakamura, the man who he won the title from a few months earlier at Wrestle Kingdom.  This was an absolutely sensational match between two of Japan’s finest and to me is a perfect example of both these guy’s at their very best.  These two have lot’s of history and know each other extremely well, so there’s no way they could have anything other than a belter of a match.  You can see it on NJPW World here:

If you enjoy you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more by clicking here!

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